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     My email acquaintance with the Gulf Coast Turtle and Tortoise Society (GCTTS) also asked me to join in a letter writing campaign to stop the commercial harvest of turtles in Texas for export to the Asian food markets. The GCTTS is located in Houston, Texas.

     The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering changes to their regulations that would eliminate commercial harvesting of wild turtles at least for large scale export as food for Asian markets. Public comments are being received until May 24, 2007. Read about it at these link:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Gulf Coast Turtle and Tortoise Society

     A few years ago I attended a presentation at a local herpetological society meeting given by a herpetologist with the Philadelphia Zoo. The presentation was basically video taken in turtle markets in China. We were warned that the video was hard to watch. It certainly was. The scale of the markets, the number of turtles available, and the inhumane treatment of the turtles were beyond anyone's expectations. I was appalled at what I saw.

     Turtles were seen in crates staked up the way rocks are sold by landscape material suppliers. Most of the turtles in the crates arrived dead. There did not appear to be any urgency to keep the turtles alive until ready to sell because there were so many crates of turtles.

     I could describe more, but I will not be that graphic.

    In my opinion no wild animal in the United States should be commercially harvested and exported to China or other Asian food markets. I do not believe that any populations of wild animals can be sustained when subjected to uncontrolled commercial harvesting. I also believe it is wrong for us to allow any wild animals from the United States to be subjected to the cruel and inhumane treatment the turtles are subjected to when shipped to China and Asia. We do not tolerate such inhumane of treatment of animals inside the United States.

     It is not easy to write regulations that are effective and balance the demands for conservation, sustainable collections for the pet trade, and for personal collection for pets. In too many states pet owners are being trampled on by over zealous regulators. Captive breeding is often regulated out of existence. This is an opportunity to encourage balance in Texas while stopping the unsustainable commercial harvesting of turtles in Texas. I urge you to write or email your comments to Robert Macdonald of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Thomas R. Schucker